In Harris v. Ally Financial, Inc., 2015 WL 7588263, at *3 (W.D.Tenn., 2015), Judge McCalla held that a vehicle lessee stated a claim against a vehicle lessor for accord and satisfaction under the facts pleaded.
Plaintiff asserts that Defendant breached an accord and satisfaction of the vehicle lease with Plaintiff and the co-buyer. (Compl. ¶ 19.) The parties’ lease states that there is “an option to buy the vehicle at the end of the lease term for $22,454.10 plus official fees and taxes.” (ECF No. 5-2 at 1.) Plaintiff states that she and the co-buyer made a good faith offer of $22,454.10 to Defendant, which Defendant has retained. (Id.) A note had been written on the cashier’s check which Plaintiff mailed to Defendant that the $22,454.10 amount was “Full Payment of All monies owed to Ally Financial by [Plaintiff and the co-buyer].” (See ECF No. 1-1 at PageID 20.) Defendant asserts that it never agreed to an accord and satisfaction. (ECF No. 5-1 at 6.) The Court finds that the facts asserted by Plaintiff support a claim for breach of accord and satisfaction. Under Tennessee law, “[a]n accord is an agreement whereby one of the parties undertakes to give or perform, and the other to accept in satisfaction of a claim … something other than or different from what he is or considers himself entitled to; and a satisfaction is the execution of such agreement.” Scipio v. Sony Music Entm’t, 173 F. App’x 385, 393 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting Lytle v. Clopton, 261 S.W. 664 (Tenn. 1924)). Plaintiff asserts that Defendant accepted the check offered “and has retained it without sending title.” (Compl. ¶ 19.) The relevant statute specifies that money must be returned to the debtor if the creditor does not discharge the debt: “All receipts, releases, and discharges in writing, whether of a debt of record or a contract under seal, or otherwise, shall have effect according to the intention of the parties thereto. However, the remittance and acceptance of a check or other instrument bearing on its face words that it is payment or satisfaction in full of a debt or obligation shall not be considered conclusive evidence of an intention that the debt or obligation for which the same is given be discharged or released; provided, that the remittee of such instrument tenders back to the remittor the funds represented by such instrument.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 24-7-106 (emphasis added). “The statute protects unwary creditors from the consequences of inadvertently cashing checks designated as payment in full of indebtedness exceeding the amount of the checks.” Cookeville Prod. Credit Ass’n v. Goolsby, 840 F.2d 16 (6th Cir. 1988) (per curiam) (unpublished table decision). In this case, Defendant is not an unwary creditor. The writing on the check signaled Plaintiff’s intent for the amount of $22,454.10 to serve as payment in full for the vehicle. (See ECF No. 1-1 at PageID 20.) The letter to which the check was attached included a subject line stating that the check was “to represent full accord and satisfaction of all monies owed to Ally,” and the body of the letter specified that “we are sending this check … as full payment of the vehicle …” (Id. at PageID 19.) Although the letter to Plaintiff dated December 11, 2014, demonstrates that Defendant did not accept the amount as payment in full at the time (id. at PageID 22), the Complaint and attached documents do not indicate that Defendant has returned any funds it received back to Plaintiff. Unlike the creditor in Quality Care Nursing Services, Inc. v. Coleman, Defendant had no reason to believe that the check was a regular payment on merchandise sold under a series of invoices. See 728 S.W.2d 1, 6 (Tenn. 1987) (finding that because the payment amount totaled the money owed on the latest two invoices, the “clerk receiving [the] check and comparing it with … the invoices would have no reason to question the accuracy of the [‘In full to date’] notation on the check”). Rather, construing the Complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiff suggests that Defendant had notice that Plaintiff intended for Defendant to accept the $22,454.10 check as payment in full. “Having accepted and deposited the check, [Defendant cannot] avoid a complete discharge of the debt without tendering back the [amount of the check].” Cookeville, 1988 WL 15507, at *3. Defendant has not transferred title of the vehicle to Plaintiff, nor has Defendant tendered back the $22,454.10 to Plaintiff. Therefore, the Court finds that Plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts for a claim for breach of accord and satisfaction. Defendant’s motion to dismiss this claim is DENIED.